Thursday, October 29, 2015
IRS EXPLAINS DEDUCTIBILITY OF BUSINESS DONATIONS TO ENTITIES WHERE PERCENTAGE OF SALES PROMOTION ARE DONATED
IRS EXPLAINS DEDUCTIBILITY OF BUSINESS DONATIONS TO ENTITIES WHERE PERCENTAGE OF SALES PROMOTION ARE DONATED The Internal Revenue Service just issued Chief Counsel Advice 201543013 (“CCA”) which discusses deductibility of payments to charities and non-charities where a business advertises that it will give a certain percentage of its sales to organizations devoted to a particular cause, such as environmental conservation or eradicating hunger. The CCA addresses not only charities described in Code §170 but also non-Code §170(c) organizations, and even for-profit entities with a social mission included in their corporate bylaws. But specifically rejected was recipients engaged in political activity. A question not answered explicitly was who gets the donation, the customer who bought the product at full price leading the business to pay the charity, or the business itself? While the CCA does not answer the question, it does not appear that the funds are donated by the customers. Normally, a business expense deduction is not permitted for contributions to charities. But under this plan which is directly related to the taxpayer's business and is made with a "reasonable expectation of financial return commensurate with" the amount transferred, the payment is deductible as a business expense rather than a charitable contribution under Code §162(b) and Treas. Regs. §1.162-15(a) and §1.170A-2(c)(5)). Under the percentage of sales plan, the Taxpayer appears to have acted with the reasonable belief that it would enhance and increase its business. The CCA went on to permit as a business deduction the payments to organizations not described in Code §170. The CCA reiterated for that type of organization that Taxpayer had a reasonable expectation of commensurate financial return from the donations it is making through the promotion. The only exception is for donations to lobbying organizations under Code §162(e)(1). No business expense deduction is allowed for amounts paid in connection with influencing legislation or participation or intervention in any political campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office. Conclusion: Donating a percentage of sales to charity leads to the business being entitled to a deduction for the payment to charity as a business expense.